Since the last time I updated my hardware recommendations I’ve purchased:
- An iPhone 5
- An iPod Touch, 5th generation (first with Lightening connector)
- An iPod Nano, 7th generation (first with Lightening connector)
- A Nexus 4 (yes, I’m giving Android a serious look)
I’m going to be updating my hardware recommendations soon, but in the meantime, here’s some quick thoughts.
I don’t get the new Nano. It’s very nice, and it would have been a great way to go before the tiny square 5-6th generation Nano, but it’s…I dunno. I don’t get it. The tiny square Nano was perfect for clipping on for workouts, very capable. The new one is a little more functionality, but also bigger. If you’re going bigger, why not go all the way and get an iPhone or iPod Touch, and have a real touch device, that can run apps and everything that comes with that?
In fact, I don’t get the entire iPod line. I would have dropped the Shuffle, made the square Nano (upgraded to Lightening) cheaper to fill that spot in the line, and upgraded the iPod Touch to the new version, but keeping the old screen size. Make the taller screen an iPhone 5 exclusive, while keeping the iPod line more affordable.
I definitely would have discontinued the old iPod Touch product. Leaving that on the market is just confusing.
All that said, the new Nano and Touch are really nice devices. And the old iPod Touch is now a bargain way to get onto iOS. Just because the product line is confusing doesn’t mean the hardware isn’t nice.
Still, I recommend the iPhone 5, because it is freakin’ awesome. Truly the best piece of computing hardware I’ve ever owned.
The Nexus 4 is very nice, seems to run the Audible app pretty well (if not quite as smoothly as on the iPhone), and has a pretty broad range of other spoken word apps available. My favorite podcast app, Pocket Casts, is available for Android, and is even “Android first” (h/t Daring Fireball). My survey is far from complete, but it’s clear that as far as spoken word entertainment goes, Android is at least very good, and has no gaps.
The Simple Bracket Kickstarter project looks incredibly cool:
I’m a backer at the maximum level. If you’re a college basketball fan, it’s worth checking out. (And watch the video all the way to the end. ;-)
Just a quick note to congratulate the winners for this year’s Audie awards, the Grammy Awards of the audiobook world. (Yes, I know there is an actual Grammy for audiobooks, but the Audie is the real award to win.)
The 2012 Audie winners are all available at Audible.com, for your immediate listening pleasure.
Audible.com’s Memorial Day sale is celebrating the three day weekend (in the US) with three different series on sale. Every book in each series is available, and priced at $7.95, a serious savings. Get a book for the price of a decent six pack, or a Summer’s worth of listening for half what you spent on that new Weber grill.
Two of the three series are terrific, with Elvis Cole being one of my favorites.
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With the launch of the store at Pottermore.com, it’s now possible to get digital versions of all seven Harry Potter novels.
I own all of the audiobooks twice over, and several of the printed books, but the eBooks represent something new: the chance to read the British version of the novels. Alas, due to insanely complicated—and stupid—international publication rights and restrictions, and my credit card’s USA billing address, the Pottermore.com store did not want to allow me to buy the UK version of the books.
Here’s how I bought them anyway. (You can do the same for the audiobooks, too.)
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So I bought a first-generation iPad, Rochelle got an iPad 2 as a “spousal patience” present, and we both got “the new iPad (3rd generation)” when it came out in March.
Obviously if we’re still buying them, we must like them. But, how about some details? What do we use them for? Why is the iPad useful, or cool? Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order:
The retina display is amazing. Truly spectacular. Once you’ve used it, you will find it hard to go back to any other screen. Indeed, I used my original iPad less and less as I got more used to the retina display on my iPhone 4. I am already reading far more than I have in months, due to the crisp perfection of text on the screen. Both Apple’s iBooks and Amazon.com’s Kindle app are great for reading. When I can’t get DRM-free ebooks I tend to shop at Amazon.com first, simply for the selection, even though I probably prefer the UI for iBooks, marginally.
It’s not just text that’s spectacular on the screen, either. I’ve…uh, checked out some of the comic book apps on the new screen, and it’s pretty much as good as holding a printed book. Spectacular. I’ve only used the Comics app from comiXology and the Dark Horse Comics app, but both have really delivered incredible on-screen quality.
The original iPad was really heavy, for a device you’re going to hold in a reading or viewing position for long stretches of time. Reading a book, watching a movie, browsing the web—all great “lean back” activities on the iPad, but the weight, it was a killer. The new iPad is a little heavier than the iPad 2, but quite a bit less weight than the original. It’s still not light enough, but it’s an improvement.
The new iPad does not get hot. No matter what you’ve read. It does get slightly warmer in a particular spot than the earlier models, but barely. You have to want to feel it to notice it.
The new iPad does indeed take almost twice as long to charge. On the one hand, the battery has almost twice the capacity, so this is not a surprise. On the other hand, it’s a genuine limitation, in that it becomes much more important to remember to plug it in to charge overnight if you’re planning on using it heavily the next day.
I used two iPads during March Madness, using the March Madness On Demand app to watch three games at once. The quality of the video, if not as good as my HDTV, was as good as my old standard definition TV set. Kind of amazing.
The Netflix app is even better than that. Damn near HDTV quality. The combination of Netflix streaming for under $10/month and an iPad may let you kiss a $100+/month cable bill goodbye. (We haven’t subscribed to cable in 4+ years.) That’ll pay for an iPad right there, in less than a year.
Rochelle is the master of replacing cable with iPad apps to watch her shows. Here’s a list to the apps she uses regularly:
When we want to watch something that’s not available from those services (Justified, The Walking Dead), it’s not hard to justify renting or purchasing in the iTunes Store, given that we don’t spend anything on cable. Not available there, either? Patience is a virtue…we wait for it to be on Netflix’s regular old disc service.
So, nutshell, worth it? As an upgrade from the original iPad, absolutely. The first generation iPad was interesting, even compelling as a vision of the future of computing, but for most people, I think it was easy to say “I’m going to wait for the version where they work out the bugs”.
That wait is over. I don’t know what will come in future generations of the iPad, beyond more processing power and more storage, but this third-generation hardware is “fully baked”. The high definition screen delivers an experience that you do have to see and touch to fully appreciate, but once you do, you’ll want it, too.
Only for the next two days, and only for Audible.com members, but the deal is so good, I feel compelled to share this collection of three hard-edged science fiction novels, Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. I really enjoyed all three novels, and hope the author will return to the Envoy universe and write more of Kovacs’s story.
All three novels, unabridged, 55+ hours of audiobook, for $25 — less than $9 per novel, under 50¢ per hour! (Even when the sale ends on June 14th, this bundle will still be a nice deal.)
My recommended solution for creating digital audiobooks from CDs, Audiobook Builder, has recently been updated, and comes with a new feature for renaming the chapters in an audiobook:
I don’t know that I’d want to use this on every book, but for those without interesting or meaningful chapter names (or if you’re just not as anal retentive as I am), this can be a nice time savings to make your chapter titles look neat and regular. This is especially useful if you’re creating a separate track for every chapter, and want to keep chapters in the right order. (I recommend a different approach, but it’s up to you.)
Other new features include additional metadata support, something that’s very welcome. All in all, a great update — and free to registered users!